Persephone Books reprint rare, out of print fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century women authors. Persephone has become a favourite literary go-to destination of mine in recent years. Since discovering Persephone Books I’ve been purchasing stories from their collection of 102 titles, for myself and my Mum every birthday and Christmas. Each book is designed with an iconic dove grey and cream cover, inside the book is lined with a fabric print selected from the original year of the stories publication and comes with a matching bookmark.
Until now I’ve been buying online, opting for the gift wrap service, the wrapping paper matches the print on the inside of the book, making it the ideal present, saves time wrapping too. With each book priced at just £12 and so many delicious, beautifully written, thought provoking stories, it’s easy to get carried away. I’ve been vowing to visit the Persephone Bookshop for sometime now. Finding myself with a little time to spare on a lazy day in London, meant I was able to take a trip down to Lamb’s Conduit Street to indulge in a spot of pre-Christmas book shopping.
The Persephone shop and office are situated a stones throw from Russell Square Tube Station, neatly tucked away on the tree-lined Lamb’s Conduit Street. The shop inhabits a Grade II Listed building, that was built in 1702-3, the exterior reflects the simplicity and style of the books. Stepping inside is like entering one big, lovely, fantastical sweet shop, so many books to devour, not to mention the fabulous prints inside the books, that are openly displayed for you to marvel at. Fabrics are as much a part of our daily lives as furnishing and dress materials, yet we rarely see them used in any other context, at Persephone they believe fabric design should be celebrated for its own sake
The ladies at Persephone Books take great care in choosing the titles to reprint, the stories are timeless, classic tales that are as entertaining for women today, as when they were first published. Often, when I enter bookshops I can feel overwhelmed by the amount of choice, at Persephone they’ve cleverly displayed a brief synopsis of each title on the shelf so you could skim read with ease, before deciding whether or not to lift the book from the shelf.
The historical Lambs Conduit street was developed by Nicholas Barbon, an economist, quoted by Marx on the second page of ‘Das Kapital’, whom also invented fire insurance after the Great Fire of London. Formerly called Red Lion Street, the present name comes from the conduit provided by a William Lamb, from which water ran through open wooden pipes down to the city. Today the street is lined with cafes and boutique shops making it the perfect place to sit, enjoy a coffee, bite to eat and do a spot of shopping.
‘You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me’- C. S. Lewis